Why Nanotechnology Underpins Electrochemical Sensing Innovation

Sensors are an essential tool across several industries. The ability to create highly accurate, easy-to-use sensors for various substrates is crucial for healthcare diagnostics and food quality and safety testing applications.

Why Nanotechnology Underpins Electrochemical Sensing Innovation

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One of the most widely used sensor types in industry is electrochemical sensors. Electrochemical sensors produce an electrical signal when the electrode binds a specific analyte, such as an ion, molecule or a specific biomarker.1 Such sensors can be made into compact devices and have become a highly popular tool in portable analysis applications.

With new materials and innovations being developed, electrochemical sensors can be an excellent tool for detecting many different analytes. In particular, developments in nanomaterials and nanotechnologies enhance the number of possible compounds that sensors can detect and further increase the diversity of applications in which electrochemical sensors can be used.2

Nanotechnology is now underpinning many of the new developments in electrochemical sensors. This includes nanofabrication methods for creating microfluidics, electrodes and sensing materials, as well as nanoscale objects, such as nanoparticles, being used for their very strong light absorption and fluorescence to make devices with very good limits of detection.

In industry, sensors provide ways of performing process management, are essential safety devices, and are important tools for research and development – for example, in drug discovery. Electrochemical sensors and their portability and specificity hold great promise in terms of ease of use, high sensitivity, and reliability for various applications, including pharmaceutical screening.

Nanotechnology and materials science is one of the main tracks at Pittcon – a leading international laboratory science conference – and experts from around the globe will be coming together to share their knowledge on electrochemical sensors and some of the latest developments in the field, such as the creation of new nanomaterials or devices.

Keynote Talks

At Pittcon, there will be a number of dedicated talk sessions on the development of new materials for use in electrochemical sensing applications and new device methodologies.

As a highly multidisciplinary area, spanning electrochemistry, materials science, as well as the analytical tools and methods used to evaluate materials and device performance, Pittcon offers a unique opportunity to see the latest work from experts in the field of electrochemical sensing and provides a platform for collaboration between industry and scientific leaders. Pittcon will also cover all aspects of working in this rapidly evolving discipline, from fundamental science to changing legislation around safety and impurity detection.

At the Advances in Nanomaterials and Sensors session, experts will share their knowledge of how spanning low-frequency Raman spectroscopy can be used to evaluate the crystallinity of tablets. Some new and emerging screen printing electrode fabrication approaches will also be highlighted.

Other developments include a presentation by Dr. Arunas Ramanavicius from Vilnius University on the creation of affinity sensors based on conducting polymers – this is a particularly appealing technology for industries interested in creating wearable devices as the conducting polymer layers can be made highly flexible. Dr. Ramanavicius has longstanding expertise in nanotechnology for sensing applications and is the leading laboratory of NanoBioTechnology at the Research Center of Physical Sciences and Technologies.

Novel carbon-based sensors will also be spotlighted at Pittcon with a dedicated session. Some essential nanomaterials in electrochemical sensors are 2D materials with very high electrical conductivity. Some of the materials covered in the talk will be graphene-based, whereas others will be examples of MXenes and Kapton-based devices. MXenes are a class of 2D materials based on the general formula Mn+1XnTx. The first MXene to be discovered was Ti3C2Tx, and now many new MXenes are being developed and discovered to help tune their excellent absorption properties, durability and conductivity. MXenes can also bond to other surfaces and create custom functionalized materials.

Another area that will be covered by Dr. Wen Sun from the University of North Dakota is supercapacitors. Supercapacitors are high-capacity capacitors that are particularly useful for energy storage applications. Dr. Sun has made these using functionalized graphene surfaces with metal oxide nanoparticles.

Aside from the materials themselves, the characterization and fabrication methods behind them are also vital in developing any new technology, and electrochemical sensors are no exception. Dr. Grant Jeffcoat from the University of Arkansas will present how a scanning electrochemical cell microscope can be used to fully characterize a single nano entity over various reaction conditions. Another new fabrication approach, which will enhance the utility of nanoparticles in developing electrochemical sensors, improves the homogeneity of the distribution of nanoparticles across a surface.

Pittcon will also be home to new research on achieving this type of fabrication and improved particle size homogeneity.

All of these developments are important for increasing the range of chemical problems that can be tackled with electrochemical sensors and offering new materials as platforms from which new sensor types can be developed. Many problems, like nanoparticle sizing and filtering, are challenging to tackle and require expensive instrumentation, so these new sensors provide a much more efficient alternative to achieving the same goal.


If you are interested in learning more about electrochemical sensing and the nanomaterials revolution, head over to Pittcon. As a combined trade show and conference, Pittcon has a highly diverse range of attendees across all aspects of laboratory and industrial science.

Trade shows like Pittcon provide a special collaborative environment for research and industry, offering a unique opportunity to see both the latest developments on the materials science side of this field and the new sensor opportunities offered by what is coming out of research labs. It is also the place to observe some of the newest commercially-available instrumentation for characterizing and fabricating nanostructures, as it will be host to market leaders in the field, including ThermoFisher, JEOL, and the Rigaku Americas Corporation.

To find out more about Pittcon, as well as details on how to register, the homepage can be found here. Information on the conference schedule and details of all speakers can be found here within the Technical Program.

References and Further Reading

Karimi-Maleh, H., Marimi, F., Alizadeh, M., & Sanati, A. L. (2020). Electrochemical Sensors a Bright Future in the Fabrication of Portable Kits in Analytical Systems. Chem. Rec., 20, 682–692. https://doi.org/10.1002/tcr.201900092

Anjum, S., Ishaque, S., Fatima, H., Farooq, W., Hano, C., Abbasi, B. H., & Anjum, I. (2021). Emerging applications of nanotechnology in healthcare systems: Grand challenges and perspectives. Pharmaceuticals, 14(8), 1–26. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14080707.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Pittcon.

For more information on this source, please visit Pittcon.


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